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The new Ashford College under construction

The new Ashford College under construction

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New Ashford College in Kent will boost skills base for employers

The new Ashford College under construction

The new Ashford College under construction

A new further and higher education campus in the heart of Ashford has moved a stage closer after the local authority agreed to provide additional funding support to help speed up the delivery of the campus.

Ashford Borough Council will provide a further secured bridging loan of up to £1m, in addition to the £2m already approved in February 2015. Both loans will also be converted into a grant of up to £3m upon delivery of phase 1 and 1a of the Elwick Road campus.

This would allow the £16m college to complete both phases of the new development by September 2017 and move all of their operations from the Jemmett Road site to the Elwick Road site. The creation of a new Ashford International College Campus within Ashford town centre has been an aspiration for all partners for the last 10 years.

Planning consent for phases 1 and 1a was granted in October 2015. Demolition was undertaken at the end of 2015 and development work started in January 2016.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “This is one of our Big 8 projects, identified as a priority within the council’s Corporate Plan. One of the key challenges to economic growth and greater prosperity within the borough is the improvement of the relatively low skills base.

“The delivery of this project will support improved educational provision within the borough, supporting improved prosperity for residents and businesses alike, therefore supporting a stronger future economy. In addition to the improved education provision, the movement of the college campus into the Elwick Road site will also bring footfall and activity to this town centre site.

“With more than 1,000 students and over 100 staff in this location, within easy walking distance of shops, services, bars and restaurants within Ashford town centre, this development will also have a positive impact on local businesses through the potential for increased visitor numbers and turnover.

“The provision of a £3m grant to secure this new campus demonstrates the council’s commitment to delivering this Big 8 project and supporting Ashford's future.”

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Hadlow Group Director of Finance and Resources, said: “We are delighted that ABC are engaged and supporting this key project for Ashford. This is more than just a project for education; this is a symbol for the significant regeneration for the town and is a fundamental part of the Big 8 programme.

“The new campus is designed to fulfil the current and future needs of students, staff and our many stakeholders. I’d like to pay tribute to the co-operation, help, advice and support received from the council leader and his team – a superb example of sectors working together effectively to fulfil a much-needed project.”

Paul Hannan, Hadlow Group Principal and Chief Executive, said: “The new campus will play a very significant part in ensuring our provision complies with the high standards we set ourselves.”

Phase 1 for the new college involves a 4,715m² building which will house the general academic departments and administrative facilities, including Mathematics, English, Business Studies, the Learning Resource Centre, Art & Design, Multi Media, Music, Hair & Beauty, Catering, other specialist departments, the refectory, fine dining, coffee shop and general shop. Phase 1a will include a 2,391m² technology block providing facilities which will include the construction and engineering departments.


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